SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) president Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari on Saturday urged the union finance ministry to end the differential treatment with the business fraternity of J&K and demanded a separate stimulus package covering the lockdown period since August 2019 in order to revive the business activity in this trouble hit the region.
In a statement issued here, Bukhari said it is extremely disheartening that the industry and other business communities of J&K have been superficially covered for the benefits of a special package of Rs 20, 000 Crore announced by the government of India to revive the shattered economy in the country.
However, he said, the industrial sector, trade and commerce activities in Jammu and Kashmir have come to a grinding halt since August 5, 2019.
“Whatever was left in the trade and other business activity was crushed by COVID lockdown. Be it Agriculture, Horticulture, Tourism and Hotel industry, all the mainstay of J&K economy is under severe depression since August last year.”
He said that in Jammu region, the tourism and its allied sectors especially the hotel industry is completely shut by the suspension of Vaishno Devi Yatra. “Same is the case with Jammu’s agriculture sector especially its Basmati producing farmers who have suffered huge financial distress because of the prevailing situation.”
Bukhari said the COVID pandemic has further squeezed all these economic sectors which can only be revived by a serious intervention of the government of India. “To begin with the government must go for interest subvention for the years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 to agriculture, horticulture, tourism, hotel, and other industrial and business sectors of J&K and provide soft loans to them at least upto 30 per cent of their investments,” Bukhari said, while also stressing on the release of payment to MSME unit holder across Jammu and Kashmir.
Bukhari also urged the government to release long-pending dues to MSME unitholders of Jammu and Srinagar which amounts to Rs. 100 Crores under the centre’s Saubhagya Scheme implemented by the Power Development Department. “Similarly, the other MSME unit holders have around Rs 250 Crores pending with various government departments, PSU’s, especially SICOP. Though the SICOP has reportedly received the payment but is unnecessarily delaying its disbursement to the concerned unitholders who have completed their work long ago.”
He said that it is extremely unfortunate that PDD had assured payment within 10 days to MSME unitholders as per the MOU signed with them. “Even after bagging an award of Rs. 100 Cr. from the government of India for timely completion of the project and for being ahead of all other states in the country, the unit holders responsible for bringing laurels to J&K are still craving for their hard-earned money.”
The JKAP President appealed the Prime Minister and Union Minister of the country to intervene in order to end this discrepancy shown by the ministry of finance and ensure a separate financial stimulus package for the J&K’ stakeholders keeping in view the reported loss of around Rs. 30, 000 Crores since August 2019.
Bukhari said J&K’s industrialists, businessmen, hoteliers, traders, transporters and shopkeepers have suffered immensely in the past several decades of turmoil and the government of India should take some concrete measures for revival of business and commerce activities the interest of peace and progress in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The business and traders’ communities in J&K are also suffering on account of unreceptive conduct of J&K Bank which instead of easing out their difficulties has been of late incrementing their financial woes. The Bank’s officers have got demoralized by constant and unnecessary interference of Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) resulting into a severe blow to Bank’s own interests and the interests of business community indirectly. Though the union home minister is already seized of the matter, unfortunately, nothing tangible has been done to address these difficulties,” the JKAP president remarked.
He said the J&K business sector has always been struggling to survive amid crippling law and order situation and other natural calamities including devastating floods of 2014. “Need of the hour is that the union finance ministry should not treat J&K’s business and industrial sector at par with their counterparts in rest of the country,” the JKAP president pleaded.
He said that the situation of overall business in J&K has been further dented due to the lockdown over COVID pandemic.
“Keeping in view an alarming rate of unemployment and other limited economic opportunities for J&K’s qualified unemployed youth, the government of India should wholeheartedly support the industrial and other business sectors in J&K so as to mitigate the sufferings of its people,” Bukhari stressed.